If you've ever moved around the country when you were younger, you'll understand if you have other teams that you root for. In my case, I've always rooted for the Vikings and Twins; provided they weren't playing the Bengals and Reds. I was raised in (super liberal) Minnesota in the 80s, leaving for the (super conservative) Queen City by the time John Taylor caught a 10-yard touchdown pass from Joe Montana, completing a 14-point fourth quarter rally winning Super Bowl XXIII. We hate the San Francisco 49ers for two reasons; this is one of them.
Of the games we called for Wild Card weekend, we couldn't find any reason why the Vikings hosting the Eagles would include an overwhelming subplot, trend, or momentum that would have us select a sure-winner. The Eagles were fortunate to make the playoffs, after the football gods smiled upon Philadelphia, carefully allowing a long-shot scenario come true. The Eagles finished the season winning four of their final five games, including wins against playoff teams against the Cardinals and the Giants. Philadelphia finished with a 4-2 record against the Giants (split), Steelers and Falcons, losing their second game to the Ravens (a week after the Bengals threw Eagle-ville into freaking chaos).
Since that loss to the Ravens, Donovan McNabb has played good football, scoring eight touchdowns and throwing only one pick. Brian Westbrook has two 100-yard rushing performances in the past five games, including a third game in which he recorded over 100 yards from scrimmage. In his past three games, he hasn't scored a touchdown, nor recorded 100 yards, after scoring six touchdown in the two games that preceded it.
Against the Vikings, the Eagles have won six of their past seven games. Andy Reid and Donovan McNabb have never lost to them; McNabb hasn't even thrown a pick. In their past five head-to-head games, the Eagles average 28.8 points scored, allowing only 18.2 to the Vikes.
However, if you believe that defenses and rushing offenses rule the playoffs, then this game should feature both. The Eagles sport the league's third best defense; the Vikings have the sixth-best. No team defends the rush better than the Vikings' 76.9 yards-allowed per game, even though the Eagles are a close fourth with 92.2 yards per. Where the Eagles struggle and where the Vikings clearly have the advantage, is rushing offense. With Adrian Peterson and Chester Taylor leading the league's fifth best rushing offense (2,332 yards rushing), the Eagles 22nd rushing offense averages 106.1 yards per game, and 4.0 yards-per-rush. However, it's well noted that the Eagles simply abandoned the rushing offense at times.
Like the Colts/Chargers; very hard to predict.I see this game being it's opposite; defense-dominated. If the game is based on who makes the least amount of mistakes, then it's clearly the Eagles (the Vikings have a -6 turnover differential; +3 for the Eagles). It's critical that Adrian Peterson set the pace for the Vikings offense, otherwise, I believe they don't have a chance. I think the Eagles are the better team, especially playing better in the closing games of the season.
However, I grew up a Vikings fan, and the home-field advantage for both the Twins and Vikings has always always favored Minnesota teams more than others; Vikings are 6-2 at home. The Eagles on the road are 3-4-1, with their only wins coming against the Giants, Seahawks and 49ers. We're calling the Vikings on this one, expecting Adrian Peterson to absolutely take the game over; though we wouldn't be surprised if the Eagles win easily either if Peterson is ineffective. How's that for fence-sitting?